Cyberattack havoc could grow as work week begins

Explaining the global ransomware outbreak

Kingsley Manning, a former chairman of NHS Digital, claimed that several hundred thousand computers were still running the out-of-date operating system.

The government is working with the affected businesses to resolve the issue.

A screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on laptop in Beijing, Saturday, May 13, 2017.

In recent articles, we spoke about Microsoft issuing a Customer Guidance with advice on how and where to get the appropriate security updates; we also reported that a 22-year-old security researcher from the United Kingdom, who accidentally figured out the "kill switch" to make the ransomware stop spreading to new systems, has warned that the hackers may mount another wave of attacks starting tomorrow.

French carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at sites in France, Slovenia and Romania, while FedEx said it was "implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible". "But what about any new variants that will come in the future?" "I'd say that's pretty low compared to other countries, but pretty high for submissions from India", he told TOI over email, pointing out that his stats only cover those who upload to the website and are not indicative of the total number of victims.

It is believed to be the biggest online extortion ever, hitting British hospitals, German rail and companies and government agencies. However, Kaspersky Lab research cited by the BBC on Sunday shows operations at 61 NHS organisations were disrupted in the cyber attack, which reportedly hit 200,000 victims in 150 states.

Meanwhile Europol's chief told the BBC that that the ransomware was created to allow "infection of one computer to quickly spread across the networks", adding: "That's why we're seeing these numbers increasing all the time".

How can people protect their computers?

Clapper, who served as intelligence director under President Barack Obama, calls it a "very serious, serious problem".

The unprecedented global ransomware attack that started Friday has hit more than 200,000 companies, hospitals, government agencies and other organizations in 150 countries, the European Union's law enforcement agency said.

"My hope is what it will lead to is more urgency and more focus from departmental and agency heads at the government level, from boardrooms at the business level and from individuals and families - of the need to make sure you're doing everything you can to keep yourselves cyber-secure". He said it was too early to say who was behind the onslaught and what their motivation was, aside from the obvious demand for money.

Meanwhile, there are reports that even a more deadly virus or malware could be released by the hackers in the coming days.

There are fears of further "ransomware" attacks as people return to work on Monday.

The attack struck at least 16 British National Health Service organisations, along with computer networks of companies and municipalities in dozens of other countries.

According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), it has activated a "preparedness and response mechanism" by instructing CERT-IN (Computer Emergency Response Team) to gather "all the information of the reported ransomware".

The virus, which took control of users' files, spread to 100 countries, including India, the UK, Spain, France and Russian Federation.

In each case, a pop-up window demanded payments of $300, or about 2,000 yuan, in order to free the files.

However, MalwareTech added, the kill switch that was activated doesn't prevent the actors responsible for the ransomware from removing the domain check in their code and re-launching an attack, "so it's incredibly important that any unpatched systems are patched as quickly as possible".

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